Bill could help alleviate labor issues for detasseling companies, working conditions

The Nebraska Legislature is considering a bill that would help address labor shortages for local detasseling companies.

During a hearing Monday, Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard cited that In 2019 there were 710 residents on a wait list for local companies and says major seed companies can hire H-2A workers more easily according to federal statute.

Bayard says that issue is forcing local employers out of business. “What’s happening is the contractors who employee people to do detasseling are telling the government ‘we don’t have the employees locally so we have to hire these migrant workers to come and do the detasseling,’ when in fact that’s not the case.”

LB 393 would also help improve employee health by shortening the length of the workday and capping the number of hours worked per week. It would also require businesses to report the number of acres planted to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. 

Erdman says adding state restrictions, like reducing the number of daily work hours, could help reduce labor shortage issues. “We begin to lose these young people from having an opportunity to work, we find that they are working the migrant workers long hours.  Longer hours they should.

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says local detasseling companies should be able to prioritize young workers before major seed companies. “We’re trading in a system that has worked really well for our state.  For a system that has nothing but a problematic track record.  The way that migrant workers are treated come to my attention.”

The Business and Labor committee will vote to advance the bill to floor of the Unicameral soon to be discussed and potentially voted on.

  • It IS the case here in Iowa. We don’t have enough young workers willing to go to the hot itchy corn fields to detassel or derogue. We need the migrant workers. They are treated well and like to work here.

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